7 warning signs you may be at risk for a heart attack (2023)

A man is walking down the street feeling completely normal - when he suddenlypressure on the chesta broken off.

For example, heart attacks in men are often portrayed in movies, but it doesn't always work that way in real life.

While heart attacks can happen without any warning, this scenario is much less common than you might think. Common heart attacks often come with warning signs.

"Most patients have symptoms before a heart attack," says James Park, M.D., FACC, director of the Cardiac and Vascular Program at Texas Health Dallas. "It's just that men sometimes ignore the symptoms or attribute it to another illness." (Here it iswhat does a heart attack actually look like, according to six real boys who had one).

Think about it: If you've been feeling excruciating discomfort in your chest, you're probably getting checked. But it's easy to overlook more subtle symptoms of heart disease.

Although you probably think you're pretty healthy, cardiovascular problems are much more common than you might think. According tonew statisticsAccording to the American Heart Association, about 50% of Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease. As the organization warns in a new report, cardiovascular disease is responsible for the highest number of deaths worldwide.

In the US, deaths from heart disease have increased from 836,546 in 2015 to 840,678 in 2016. This jump is attributed to updated high blood pressure guidelines, which reduced the reading to 130/80 mm Hg from the previous reading . 140./90mmHg. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

    That's why it's vital to take the unusual symptoms seriously - you could have a heart attack before it happens.

    Here are seven unexpected tips to look out for, plus what to do if you have them.

    Possible sign of a heart attack: You are physically exhausted

    If your daily routines or workouts suddenly feel unnaturally difficult — or if you're too tired to do your normal tasks, it's time to see a doctor, says Robert Segal, M.D., FAAC, founder of Manhattan Cardiology.

    If you feel extremely tired, it could indicate weakness in your heart's left ventricle, the main muscle responsible for pumping blood from your heart to the rest of your body, says Segal. When the heart stops working, the heart cannot pump properly, which can result in a heart attack.

    And if your left ventricle isn't pumping as vigorously as it should, your heart may not be able to circulate enough blood through your body or fill itself with fresh blood between heartbeats. To compensate, the body diverts blood away from the muscles and sends it to more vital organs, such as the heart and brain.according to the American Heart Association. This leaves you exhausted – even after a full night's sleep, because your tissues don't get enough fresh, oxygenated blood.

    Sign of a possible heart attack: your erection fails

    Erections occur when more blood flows into the penis, making it firm and hard. But when these blood vessels are damaged, blood flows less freely, making it less likely that you get an erection or maintain an erection when you're aroused. This is the most importantcause of erectile dysfunction.

    As Segal explains, if your blood vessels are damaged, chances are the blood vessels near your heart will also be damaged.

    One of the main causes of this damage to the blood vessels is plaque buildup. When this happens in the arteries of the heart, you're at risk for a heart attack, he says.

    Having a one-off performance issue is probably not a problem; it can only mean that you are tired or stressed. But if the problem persists after a few sessions in bed, it could be a sign of something more serious.

    Sign of a possible heart attack: cramps in the legs or hips when walking

    A cramping or burning sensation in your calves that slowly works its way up to your thighs and hips can be bad news. It's a common sign of peripheral arterial disease: a narrowing of the arteries that restricts blood flow to the extremities, stomach, and head.

    This discomfort is caused when there is not enough blood in the legs. "Most patients admit that they are unable to walk normal distances without symptoms or have to stop to rest before walking again without symptoms," says Park.

    This discomfort can mean that your heart is also at risk for potential problems. PAD is similar to coronary artery disease, in which plaque builds up around the heart's main blood vessels. Therefore, plaque buildup, which contributes to the narrowing of the arteries in the extremities, can also occur in the arteries of the heart.Mayo Clinic Volgens.

    And that buildup can significantly increase your risk of a heart attack, Park says.

    Possible sign of a heart attack: You have a serious snoring problem

    Snoring like a buzz saw, waking up short of breath, or feeling tired despite going to bed at a reasonable time could be signs that you have sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing. And if left untreated, it can increase the risk of a heart attack.

    These pauses in breathing can put a lot of stress on your body, raise blood pressure, cause your heart to beat irregularly and increase your risk of heart disease, says Segal. And all of these things can increase the risk of a heart attack.

    Possible sign of a heart attack: You feel sick to your stomach

    Sometimes nausea, indigestion, or a "burp" feeling that won't go away is just a sign of itstomach problem. But it can also indicate a heart problem.

    “The nervous system sometimes confuses signals coming from different parts of the body,” says Park. The nerves of the gastrointestinal tract are closely related to the nerves of the heart. As a result, a problem brewing in your heart can sometimes translate to an upset stomach, he explains.

    However, there is a way to distinguish a stomach flu from something more serious. Normally, the nausea caused by an impending heart attack gets worse with physical exertion and subsides when you rest.

    Possible sign of a heart attack: You feel unusually anxious

    Research shows that women with anxiety are more likely to have reduced blood flow to the heart than women without anxiety. And while the same hasn't yet been shown for men, it's still important for them to consider the link between anxiety and heart attack risk, Segal warns.

    This is because many anxiety symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, andpalpitations– are also signs of a heart attack, especially if you are not dealing with a stressful situation that would normally cause these types of symptoms.

    “This could potentially mask heart problems in many patients and lead to significant delays in diagnosis and treatment,” explains Segal. In other words, you probably won't call 911 if you think your racing heart is just a matter of mood.

    Anxiety canplacesextra pressure on your heart. That's because the feeling of tension causes blood vessels to constrict and your heart rate to speed up, which can trigger a heart attack, says Segal.

    Signs of heart problems: You're bloated

    7 warning signs you may be at risk for a heart attack (1)

    Bloating is common, especially after eating a super salty meal, but it can also be caused byCongestive heart failure. This is because the heart is too weak to properly pump blood around the body, causing fluid to build up throughout the body.

    You will usually notice swelling in your legs, feet, ankles, lower legs or abdomen,according to the American Heart Association. You may even gain weight unexpectedly or find that your shoes are too tight. If you suddenly feel bloated (and won't go away), it may be time to see a doctor.

    What to do if you have heart attack symptoms

    Unlike classic chest pain, these symptoms do not guarantee that your heart is in immediate danger. But they can indicate that problems may be looming in the future, so make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

    "If you're lucky enough to experience symptoms, listen to your body and get tested," says Park.

    If your doctor suspects you are having a heart attack, he or she may recommend an electrocardiogram, a test that measures the heart's electrical activity and shows if your heart is damaged. He may also order a coronary angiogram, which detects blockages in the arteries.

    And if you feel classic symptoms that indicate you're having a heart attack right now, call 911 as soon as possible. This includes chest pressure or tightness, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold sweats, or discomfort in your arms, neck, or jaw.

    The best way to prevent a heart attack is naturalimprove overall healthlowering high blood pressure, maintaining a normal body weight and not smoking.

    7 warning signs you may be at risk for a heart attack (3)

    Marygrace Taylor

    Marygrace Taylor is a health and wellness writer for Prevention, Parade, Women's Health, Redbook, and others. She is also co-author of Eat Clean, Stay Slim: The Mediterranean Diet and Kitchen of Prevention. Visit her at marygracetaylor.com.

    7 warning signs you may be at risk for a heart attack (4)

    Melissa Matheus

    Health Writer

    Melissa Matthews is a health writer for Men's Health, covering the latest in nutrition, nutrition and health.


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